CBD vs. Epilepsy

*** This blog post is unique — and a little different than most of our other blogs. It’s based on an especially touching part of the new documentary CBDNation and covers the story of Jayden David, a five-year-old boy whose struggle against epilepsy helped spark the entire CBD movement. Most of the content and quotes in this blog are straight from the documentary. Enjoy! And if you want to learn more, check out CBD Nation for yourself. Jayden’s story begins around the 12:31 mark.

CBD vs. Epilepsy: The Heart-Wrenching Story

[In hemp], the profession has gained an anti-convulsive remedy of the greatest value.

Dr. William O’Shaughnessy, 1839

Sometimes even the most important historical practices get forgotten…and that’s especially true when it comes to health and nutrition.

Ancient peoples from nearly all cultures placed a tremendous value on nose-to-tail use of the whole animal, getting plenty of sunlight, and eating produce in-season, for example; those of you that stay in step with wellness trends will know that allof these practices have made quite the science-fueled comeback today.

Guess what else the cultures of old did? They sought out the cannabinoid-rich plants like cannabis and hemp. Whether in Israel of Egypt or Asia, hemp was prized for its ability to quell pain, grace childbirth, and aid eyesight. After seeing how hemp was traditionally used in India, British polymath-physician William O’Shaughnessy passionately proclaimed it an “anticonvulsant of greatest value.”

So in a way it’s only fitting that hemp’s anti-epileptic properties would be the thing to bring it back into the spotlight today. It’s true — whether you knew it or not, hemp’s impact on epilepsy was what brought it, full circle, back into mainstream awareness.

Jason & Jayden

It all started back in 2011, when a man named Jason David was at the end of his rope. Driven to desperation by the suffering of his 5-year-old son, Jayden, Jason decided to visit a Californian medical marijuana dispensary. Jayden had severe epilepsy — he’d had it since he was four months old — and was having a thousand ‘twitches’ and several grand mal seizures a day.

My dream is to put my son to bed, and have him hug me, look me in the eye, and say, ‘I love you Daddy.’

Jason David, 2011

“He’s in pain and suffering and crying,” Jason David recounted to CNN in 2012. “You can’t help him no matter what. What are you supposed to do? You have to do whatever it takes to save their life.” Doctors may have prescribed Jayden 22 anti-seizure pills a day, but their partial effectiveness came with debilitating side effects. For Jason, doing ‘whatever it takes’ meant finding a way, anyway, to help his son feel better.

Jason and Jayden. Image courtesy of http://cbdnationfilm.com/about/.

For the longest time, nothing seemed to work. Jason did everything the doctors told him to do…but Jayden just kept getting worse. Eventually his seizures became nearly constant; he hardly ate, slept, or stopped crying for four months straight. “Jayden was dying in front of my face,” Jason describes. “I was gonna commit suicide [because] I couldn’t handle it anymore.”

Talked out of suicide by his mom, Jason began pouring his time into researching alternative treatments. After seeing a child with Tourette’s syndrome find relief with cannabis on the news, he googled “neuroprotectant medical marijuana” — and what he found piqued both his interest and his hope. The US government actually had a patent (patent 6630507) on the anti-epileptic qualities of cannabinoids like CBD!

More research on how to source such cannabinoids led Jason to contact Oakland-based Harborsidedispensary, which was then one of the only sources of medical-grade cannabis in the State. “My dream,” Jason told Harborside co-founder Andrew DeAngelo, “is to put my son to bed, and have him hug me, look me in the eye, and say, ‘I love you, Daddy.’”

Andre DeAngelo, cofounder of Steephill Labs. Image courtesy of http://cbdnationfilm.com/about/.

CBD: Worth the Risk

The DeAngelo’s suspected cannabis could help Jayden’s seizures, but there was one significant catch: giving Jayden cannabis was illegal.

“We had never been presented with a child of that age to give cannabis medicine to before,” the other DeAngelo brother, Steven, explained. There were legal uncertainties, too, as Andrew added: “I was worried I was gonna get busted, or even worse, [that] Jason would get busted, and [have] his child get taken from him.”

Then there were more pharmacological unknowns. “I was concerned about giving a child that young any THC, of course…I didn’t want the kid to get stoned,” Andrew explained. The DeAngelo brothers decided to give Jayden the highest CBD, lowest THC cannabis tincture they had.

Image courtesy of http://cbdnationfilm.com/about/.

For Jason and his son, the suspense was building. “I went to church that Sunday morning, and I prayed […] ‘God, please don’t let me hurt Jayden,’” Jason tearfully recounts. “I remember giving it to him that morning. I remember that day vividly, Jayden smiling, Jayden happy. It was the first day I ever saw my son not have a seizure […] just having him smile was like winning the lottery.”

That was June 4th, 2011. “It was a very very dramatic before and after, and there was just no question that this was a very powerful medicine,” remembers Steven. Neither he nor his brother nor Jason nor Jayden knew it at the time, but the experiences they were stumbling through were fast becoming history in the making.

After a month of seeing consistently good results, Jason decided to wean his son off the pharmaceuticals. First was Stiropental, then Topamax, then Depakote; each withdrawal yielded two steps forward and one step back. Eventually Jayden was weaned off of the benzodiazepine Clobazam, too.

And with that, this then-five-year-old’s life was forever changed. “I’ll take 2-5 bad days a month compared to never seeing a good day, ever,” Jason said of the truly night-and-day difference in his son.

Experience > Research

For better or worse, Jayden’s experience was no surprise to top cannabis researchers. “We published our findings thirty-seven years ago [that] cannabidiol (CBD) blocks epileptic attacks in patients,” laments the practical godfather of CBD research, Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“What happened? Nothing for thirty years. Nothing happened until desperate parents like those in this film did their own research and found out that cannabidiol can help children with epilepsy. But epilepsy is just one of many conditions that we know cannabis medicine can treat. If the world chooses to not look at all of the science, it is not ignorance—it’s negligence.”

The godfather of cannabis research: Dr. Raphael Mechoulam demonstrated CBD’s anti-spasmodic properties nearly 40 years ago. Image courtesy of http://cbdnationfilm.com/about/.

But that’s all in the past now. The collective experience of thousands of parents and caregivers has finally overwhelmed the dogmas of before, and today CBD’s anti-epileptic power is accepted for the scientific reality that it is.

Jayden reaping the benefits of CBD oil. Image courtesy of Medical Daily.

After 25,000 pills, 12 different pharmaceuticals, nothing did what CBD had done for Jayden.

Jason David, 2020
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